Monday, November 30, 1981


Another wet, miserable day, but I really enjoyed Claire’s company, and for once felt OK, even happy with myself. She left at dinnertime and I sat in the common room with nothing to do, waiting for a lift into Easterby which Peter had promised me.

Half of me was glad to get away, and at two-thirty Peter and Tim and I went up to Peter’s house for the car. It wasn't available, so we walked in the freezing wind and steady downpour to Moxthorpe for the bus. Fares up again! We got into Easterby just as it was coming in dark and wandered round to a couple of shops.

While we waited for the bus back we looked round HMV and I ran into Wiechec, then Julie Pilkington and Sean Laxton too. I was in a stupid, rash, money spending mood and bought Santana's Caravanserai for £2.99.

Sunday, November 29, 1981


I did no work, nothing constructive, nothing at all, and I was just gearing down for a classic evening of TV when Lee rang: I’d promised to meet him and Andy Wiechec at half-five to go for a curry. It was wet and cold and dark outside and I really hated to move, but I went with Mum and Dad when they drove Nanna P. home

I got to Andy’s feeling much the same, although his loud cheerfulness soon lifted me out of it. He, Lee and I set out in pouring rain for the Nawaab up on Easterby Road which was quite plush inside, with neat wooden tables, serviettes and subdued lighting. It was much plusher than the average Pakistani joint. I ordered a chicken curry: we felt uneasy and really rather stupid until the food arrived and mine was a brown greasy conglomeration with big slabs of chicken floating about in it. Twenty minutes later I’d left a quarter of it and felt hot, blown up and queasy and almost ready to throw up.

Back at Andy’s we played cards until his mother, father and brother Jonas arrived back at ten. I got home at eleven or so.

Saturday, November 28, 1981


The First Test from India was on the radio when I got downstairs: England struggling at 140+ for 8. Outside the sky was clear and cold and everything was bathed in bright sun.

I got a lift into Easterby from Mum and Dad who were on their way to pick up Nanna P. They dropped me at the library: I took back all my books unread and got out Thoreau’s Walden. I planned on doing so much in Easterby but inevitably I felt helpless and at a loss and so wandered aimlessly to and fro in streets seething with people. Crowds, crowds, crowds.

I went to Praxis and was a bit upset to see the “Save Praxis” posters in the window. I spent hours there and bought Junky by W. Burroughs and a copy of Freedom. I donated change to the shop, but it felt all wrong somehow, my cherished ideals not holding up exposed to this shop supposedly the centre of it all, and I emerged feeling disappointed, frustrated, depressed. If that’s the most I can get out of it. . . . I took refuge in HMV where I bought Pat Metheny Group’s American Garage which I’ll probably give to Andrew.

And that was how the highlight of my week passed. I felt incredibly down, with nowhere to go, no possible place to enjoy myself at all, nothing but frustration, anger and longing. How many other people are like me? Everyday I feel this way, unhappy and restless, whereas everyone else seems so content.

I met up with Tim and Peter and we trailed round being crude and childish and for once I felt OK and got home at four or so having frittered away my money on nothing.

Friday, November 27, 1981


Mrs. Slicer is still ill, so no English period one. Instead I listened to Colin, Duncan and Jeremy talking about Twelfth Night and felt out of it. Second period we had a talk in the FE Lounge by a woman lecturer in Caribbean studies from Whincliffe University who was very knowledgeable and interesting. I feel like I have to read more. In History Claire told me that today it's four months since she met her boyfriend Adam.

I left early and Lee came with me to help me with this bike. We walked with Claire; I noticed the little things, and as the old cliché goes, actions speak louder than words. I couldn't escape a cloying sensation of confinement all evening.

Thursday, November 26, 1981


I went into school and tried to read Kerouac’s Desolation Angels but left again at one-thirty with Lee and Peter: I was knotted and hate-filled, burning up inside, tension that was only released by my records back home.

Art was much the same and I spent the evening slumped before the box, watching Shirley Williams win the Crosby by-election by 5000 votes. Predictable really. Dad was really bitter and angry about Lord Scarman’s report about the Brixton riots, sighing despairingly and sounding so cynical, warped, and racist: “Why don’t they just go back where they came from?” etc. Mum, semi-patronisingly, attempted to explain the truth.

Truth is, our society’s at the end of its effectiveness. There are no political solutions possible, which why the Crosby coverage degenerated into petty, vindictive, bigoted schoolboy partisanship. The SDP is just another dead-end.

Wednesday, November 25, 1981


A complete contrast to yesterday, Claire embroiled in talk with Evelyn about her boyfriend, etc. . . . This depressed me, highlighting my feelings of paranoia and emptiness.

I watched Woody Allen’s Sleeper after school.

Tuesday, November 24, 1981

Details later

Hirst cancelled her lesson first thing. In our fourth lesson, our student teacher Mr. McDermott set us a really obscure and difficult poem, and then during dinner and on into History there was a big argument between Duncan, Jeremy, and Claire over nothing really: Duncan said that he's told his Dad about Hirst’s “hit the bottle" advice to Lee and I: various accusations of tactlessness and distortion flew around. Jeremy told Hirst and she was sort of half-annoyed and half-amused, and Claire then accused Jeremy of trying to "blacken Duncan’s name." She got really quite vicious with him and there was an aroma of distaste over everything after that.

I got home to find a brown envelope from Kent Uni in the hallway.; they’ve offered me a place, details later. Robert rang with the news that the £150 overdraft he and Carol thought they had is actually closer to £500, and on the ‘phone with Mum he was nearly in tears. I felt utterly depressed after this; Mum crying, gloom all around.

Monday, November 23, 1981


It was a grim, rainy day. I started school still carried by yesterday’s momentum, determined to keep it going really, but I ended up marooned in boredom and lethargy. Lee, Steve, Peter, and Tim and I all made fools of ourselves in front of Halyna and Laura. Claire sounded really ill and croaky.

Sunday, November 22, 1981

Myself at fifty, looking back

Dad arrived just after we'd got up, bringing with him a basket of fruit and a bunch of flowers for Carol. She's touched by the big fuss everyone's making. The morning passed in good humour, playing with the now half-grown kittens, reading the newspapers, and talking. At half-past twelve, to our surprise, Carol’s Mum and Dad knocked at the door. Her Mum is a big, flashy woman, very false.t was the first time I'd seen them since Robert and Carol got married six years ago. Robert doesn’t really get on with them and so things were slightly uneasy and strained after this; Mum said later that he’d been getting really worked up in the kitchen.

We left after dinner. As he came to see us off, Robert seemed very low and depressed and on the way back, Mum again said that Carol’s worried that he's on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Last night I felt so sorry for him; he looked so hemmed in and shackled by his circumstances, as though all the idealistic zest and enthusiasm is being hammered out of him.

In the evening, Mum, Dad, and I watched a programme about America’s creationists and got involved in a discussion which once again reduced me to shivering excitement over its possibilities. We talked about religion and now I am really unsure. What's man’s natural state really like, stripped of all social conventions? If human nature is just greed, prejudice, and injustice as Mum believes, then what's the point of anarchism, of anything?

I tried tactfully to introduce talk about a sort of anarchist Thoreau view, a return to the land and me and Dad actually agreed for once and I almost started to believe I’d discovered something. We started throwing around the idea of Earth spirits, earth goddesses, etc., and  wondered if we've lost something here in the sophisticated, prepackaged, industrialised West. Our roots and connections with the land have gone and with them fulfillment and happiness. Aren't those societies (the ones we call ‘backward') where people have the strongest ties with the earth the ones with the strongest sense of cultural identity and community? Societies where people live from the earth, work with it and are (silly as it sounds) one with it?

I said that there must be more to life than the utter emptiness of the ones we all lead now with their plastic mediocrity and nine-to-five existences of bed, work, home, TV, bed. "There's got to be an answer, somehow!" And so on. Mum said I sounded “typically adolescent.”

But it’s true. Everyone seems to go through life dissatisfied, discontented, unhappy. The 'sensible' and 'decent' values drummed into us from birth – marriage, a house and a mortgage (of course!), settling down, drifting through life to the grave – are all so grey and artificial and pointless. My dissatisfaction with school and (my lack of) social life, Buddhism, TM, the urges to drink and the round-the-world thing last year, anarchism, it all points the same way. . . . I'm searching for how to say something about whatever 'it' is that I'm looking for; maybe it's some sort of meaning or order or maybe it's just excitement. Whatever it is, it's been said before I'm sure but it's true anyway. It all connects.

Mum ended up crying, saying that we all seem so sad and that she sometimes thinks she's somehow brought us up badly. "All I ever want is for you to be happy yet you seem sad". . . and there’s Robert, 28 now, and I get the feeling he's sickened off with his job and his life. Andrew, equally so. And I see myself at fifty, looking back and feeling the same, but knowing it isn’t worth it, wondering where everything went. "We all think too much, we get it off Dad, because really he’s just the same." Those people with tranquil and unremarked upon existences who are never disturbed or discontented: are they happy? Maybe this is why people drink themselves to death. To escape.

I don’t suppose there's an answer really.

Saturday, November 21, 1981

A great togetherness

Mum and I got the ten o’clock bus to Dearnelow, and Robert was waiting for us in the station when we arrived, looking white and fraught. He had a noticeable limp and looked awful.

He'd brought a shopping list with him and so, for the next hour, we traipsed round Dearnelow market buying in all Carol’s shopping. The market was seething with people and when we were done, we saw Mum to a taxi; Robert suggested that we go and watch Dearnelow F.C.'s match and we wandered about feeling at a loose end, looking at records or books and having a pint at a pub. I bought Billy Cobham’s Crosswinds for £1.99. Robert was subdued and depressed.

We got to Cannonbrook with an hour to spare. It's a big, old-fashioned ground surrounded on three sides by wasteland and as we approached through the greyness we both remarked that the view would have made an excellent photo, with the 'John Smith's Bitter' painted in stark white letters across the roof of the stand and the dark, huddled figures converging on the turnstiles.

Inside it was crowded, people everywhere. I bought a hot dog and we stood opposite the main stand. Thunderous applause when Dearnelow came out; they're fifth in Yorkshire League One and score loads of goals. Their opponents Cumberhead are near the foot of the table and it was no surprise that Dearnelow started well with lots of swift, attacking football, and they so completely dominated Cumberhead that a goal felt inevitable. It came after 21 minutes, the centre forward Michaels chopping a loose ball and McCandless backheeling it in. Really exciting stuff, and but for the Cumberhead goalkeeper’s brilliant saves, Dearnelow could have had three or four.

But after half-time, their form vanished and they looked shaky and uncertain in defence, and Cumberhead equalised within fifteen minutes–it was deathly quiet as the Cumberhead goalkeeper celebrated. The arguments behind us, conducted in broad Yorkshire accents, were amusing to overhear. It was all so familiar, and the game degenerated after this into football we were both at home with–lots of good old up-and-unders. . . .  And that's how it ended, 1-1, and we both really enjoyed it. On the way out, the human river flooded down the tiny backstreets, tributaries joining together into one immense living stream, a clumping multitude of heads; a great togetherness really. We had to wait an hour for a bus.

Carol is hobbling about with two purple and red swollen eyes and looks pretty bad. We passed the evening reading, listening to music and talking: Robert told us that there are four Buddhist RE teachers at Swinscoe school; one has been to Tibet. He said that if he ever takes up a religion it will be Buddhism.

Friday, November 20, 1981


A day of gusting gale-force wind: mid-morning, the elements combined into one violent, howling rage of rain driven horizontally against the school, so spectacular that it sent everyone in the common room rushing to the windows.

I felt out of touch and isolated and so remote from Claire, who continues to show me no special attention. We had a history test period three, and afterwards I sat by my self listening to the dull, macho conversations of Briscoe & co. Later, Laura and I played chess, and she, Evelyn and I talked, which I quite enjoyed.

I met Lee at four in Easterby. It was dark and noisy with the screams of millions of starlings. We wandered round ex-Army stores and Praxis and I spent £4.73 on my bike. At home we're still preoccupied with Rob & Carol. I overheard Mum saying that Carol thinks Rob could be heading for a nervous breakdown. He gets so worked up over practical things, and is slightly neurotic I think.

Thursday, November 19, 1981

Low sun

I didn’t have to go into school today and I lay in bed enjoying the sensation of waking and drifting away.

At ten or so, I heard the phone ring and I could hear Dad talking in subdued ‘family-tragedy’ tones. It was Robert, ringing from the hospital. A car accident: he ploughed into the back of another car driving into a low sun. Carol has injured both legs and bruised her head after they both went through the windscreen. The car's a write off, Robert is in the troughs of despair, and all the money they sank into the car is gone. At least they’re alive.

I went into school anyway and wanted to tell everyone, but it was one of those situations where a thing is important personally but not so to anyone else. School felt funny as a result. We’re going across at the weekend.

Wednesday, November 18, 1981

Doubled up

The weather was abysmal. Despite Claire’s presence, I was utterly, stiflingly bored. She was too. Sighs, small talk about Tony, Michael, etc. . . . I hated it, and I finally comprehend how utterly nothing I am to her, the small, small part I figure in her scheme of things. I feel like I have nothing outside of school; meanwhile, other people are forging ahead. Right now I’m doubled up with frustration, anger, and inner hatred.

In the evening I watched England triumph 1-0 over Hungary.

Tuesday, November 17, 1981


I got in late again and although I only had one lesson free, during period four, Mr. Giles asked me and Lee if we wanted to get on with making the Twelfth Night scenery. We went and sawed some branches down.

God, I hated school toward the end of the day, and only my snatches of conversation with Claire made it bearable. In an echo of Thursday, Ms. Hirst asked how I was and seemed really quite concerned. I was pleased with my B- for my Naipaul essay.

Monday, November 16, 1981


The happy optimism of last night replaced today by predictable paranoia and disillusionment and a return of all the old feelings. Mr. Elson and Laura asked me what I did over the weekend. I told them about the stripper and they were amused, Elson in particular. As Lee and I talked to Mr. Giles about helping with the scenery for Twelfth Night, Elson was laughing as he walked past and said to Giles, “Ask him where he went on Saturday.”

Sunday, November 15, 1981

The tyranny of the clock

I did nothing but feel unfulfilled and stagnant all day, merely feeling that I could do so much. Instead I read the Observer into the afternoon, listening to Dad carp on bitterly about a supposedly anti-police article. I thought it was quite fair.

The one thing that fills me with real dread is the thought that three years at University will be just as stultifyingly awful as school. And likely nothing will be different because really the problem is with me.

I read The Anarchist Reader: “The Tyranny Of The Clock” by George Woodcock, J.P. Proudhon on prisons, and Godwin on punishment and right now I feel incredibly optimistic, almost happy. There's so much to do and I have to make myself do new things and force myself into new situations.

Saturday, November 14, 1981

Desolation angel

Andrew woke me up by bringing me some tea. He seems OK, in better spirits than the last time I saw him. He's brought a friend, Steve, who's from London originally and seems quiet but confident.

At eleven the three of us drove into Easterby in the battered old Triumph Herald they’d come up in and while they went off to look round Easterby, I went to the library. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and got out books on contemporary US novelists (Kerouac was completely pissed upon, derided and mocked), on alternative communities in nineteenth-century England, and a book on Vladimir Mayakovsky. I then went over to Praxis and bought Kerouac's Desolation Angels. 

I have a distinct memory, for no other reason than this, of standing in Thomas Street car park behind the library, waiting for Andrew and Steve to show up. All around me were half-derelict, litter-strewn buildings and streets and I stood and gazed out across the urban, industrial skyline beyond Debdenshaw Rd., punctuated with clean, lean tower blocks and jumbled grimy-black houses and factories, mixed with clinical new-but-still-seedy concrete plazas. This is where I live I thought, as I regarded the candid, naked city truth all around, and felt then a kind of pride in my upbringing, at where I'm from. I feel at home among all of this.

Steve wanted to go to the Three Kings up Felgate Rd to see the stripper there (he's into things like that apparently), and so they asked if I wanted to come with them. According to Dad, the Three Kings is well-known for its violence and vice but I said OK, regarding it as a new experience I could only benefit from. Inside, the pub' was bigger than I’d expected, a cacophony of flashing, spinning lights and jarring disco noise. An amateurish, Savile-style DJ introduced the records and as the time for the stripper approached, the floor in front of the tiny stage was increasingly clogged with men, all trying their best to look bored and uninterested.

Right on cue, ‘Sally’ emerged from her cubicle dressed as a schoolgirl, complete with mini-skirt. She had fat jelly-like thighs which shivered and wobbled as she flaunted them in front of us. Revolting. Gradually she disrobed, rubbing her school tie between her legs, and Steve sat back clearly enjoying himself and exchanging knowing looks with us. Finally, completely naked, Sally grabbed her clothes and disappeared to a smattering of low-key applause.

We got back at half-one and Andrew and Steve left soon after for a party in Whincliffe. After this, Dad ran me into Farnshaw to see a new book-shop, and that was it for my weekend. I did finally write a letter to the anarchist community centre in Royden and watched the Shuttle landing on TV.

Friday, November 13, 1981

Aimless wandering

Duncan delivered the bike before school, I gave him a cheque for £30 and then spent the rest of the day half feeling I’d been ripped off.

Laura and I played chess and during last period she came over to talk to me. We were talking when Mr. Elson wandered across, pinning notices up on the walls and somehow I got on about how depressed I feel and more or less repeated what I said yesterday about my frustration, my stagnation, etc. He seemed interested and told me I should do something different. Laura said she was going out on Saturday with a friend, and, “You could come out with me." Elson: “There you are, if I had an offer like that . . . !” But I got the feeling it was just charity from Laura and she seemed like she regretted her offer immediately. Even so, I could scarcely credit she’d made it. Elson left to pin up more notices saying I needed to hurry up and shake free from my torpor.

During the evening, Peter called round, and we ended up trailing around Egley and Farnshaw. We even went to Duncan’s. I hated aimlessly wandering about and all round Egley it seemed, gangs of bored lads were engaged in similar activities.

Andrew still hadn't arrived when I went to bed. Mum had all her top teeth pulled out today. She was ill.

Thursday, November 12, 1981

A bit of excitement

I am still feeling the effects of Tuesday night; all day I felt weary and my eyes ached. I worked on my V. S. Naipaul essay and felt awkward and out of touch with Claire. 

Lee went to talk to Ms. Hirst about his lethargy and inability to work and she asked to see us both at two-thirty. We trailed around after her as she organised the 3rd-year intake parents’ evening, and when she eventually got round to us I told her about my claustrophobic feelings regarding school, how I hated it and was overwhelmed by frustration and anger when I have to do some work. “How do you think I feel having to work here?” she said, and suggested that we both need a bit of excitement. “You both need to get debauched, experience things a bit. Go out and hit the bottle on Friday nights.” I mentioned this Royden anarchist thing to her and she said I ought to go along and for once I felt as if I’d got through to someone else about everything. At least she knows how we feel now. I said that maybe I was trying to find excuses for my laziness, or maybe it was just my age, but I didn’t know what my real personality was (“I’m sure it’s nice and interesting”). On we went like this, me feeling slightly false but also glad in a way. At least someone knows! As a result of this I missed the Shuttle launch.

Art was OK. I re-established a sort of normality with Duncan and arranged to buy his bike off him for £30. Lynn Norden said that what happened on Tuesday morning was “frightening”: “I don’t think you saw anyone else in the common room because when they all clapped you were embarrassed.”

Andrew’s coming home tomorrow. Perhaps today was reason for optimism?

Wednesday, November 11, 1981


I was up at seven, said goodbye to Rob and Carol, and got into Dearnelow half-an-hour later, hoping to catch an eight o'clock Easterby bus. But none was timetabled ‘til nine, so I wandered around the cold, empty grey streets.

I finally got to school at about eleven. Duncan ignored me, slamming about again, muttering, “You behaved like a savage and I have no place for barbarism in my life." Although I was free after break and Claire was there I felt awful: foolish, tired, as if I’d acted totally unnecessarily and stupidly. I hated it and as a result was depressed and couldn’t find the effort needed to talk to anyone. Even discussing last night seemed forced.

After school, I went to the Film Society and watched Yanks.

Tuesday, November 10, 1981


I felt fairly OK when I got into school but as I sat waiting for the bell there was Duncan calling me that infuriating name “Marty” and hitting me with his bicycle pump and for some reason, I went mad. It must be a culmination of things. I grabbed the pump he was waving in my face and hurled it away and as he continued I pushed him to the ground and kicked him in the legs. I was really angry. The berks in the 6th form all applauded and I stalked away feeling stupid and ashamed. Violence is the last resort of the incompetent. Duncan glared at me throughout History, calling me “a bastard” and at break studiously ignored me, violently slamming things around.

I left at eleven full of conflicting feelings: shame, anger, complete paranoia. In Easterby I got the noon bus to Dearnelow, then the Swinscoe bus and met Robert in the staff room at his school.

Our journey took exactly two hours, and we found the football ground easily enough, were frisked and herded into the Athletic end, hemmed in by wire meshing. Cross End's ground was modern and clean but a bit smaller than I’d expected. There were about two hundred Athletic fans there and they started up a continuous chant which lasted right to full time. Exhilarating. I was glad to see Easterby playing in their home strip.

It was a predictable beginning; sustained Cross End pressure, Athletic looking totally outclassed and inevitably, in the 32nd minute, the ball was headed home by Cross End's No. 4. 0-1. I half-regretted going. The second half started out the same but, gradually, Athletic crept back into the game, exerting pressure, hurrying Cross End off the ball. They started making errors and sending passes astray. Then, to my amazement, and our collective rapture, there was Littlewood lunging amid red shirts, the ball in the net. A goal!! Pandemonium at our end.

The last fifteen minutes were unbearable, some people facing the other way, unable to watch, and everyone screaming at the ref to blow his whistle. Then, when he finally did, more crazy celebrations and the Athletic players came jogging over to salute us, as if they’d won the FA Cup or something. We were weary and hoarse in a bemused sort of way as we left, scarcely able to believe that we’d held the mighty Cross End to a draw.

It was in this excited, happy mood that we set off back and were cruising along quite nicely, discussing the match, when out of the darkness came the red rear lights of a car. Robert flicked the steering wheel and WHAM!, we hit the car, glanced off, swerving into the middle of the road before Robert managed to pull over. I was shaking like a leaf. I had to force the passenger door open but the door wouldn't close again. The other people in the car we'd hit came running up unhurt, a couple of Athletic fans who’d had a puncture in their hire-car. "We thought you'd be pissing blood!” I was still shaking (“you're just nervy,” said one bloke) as Rob exchanged details with them. What would’ve happened if we’d hit that car full on!?

I had to hold the door closed with my scarf all the way home; we pulled off at Purswell to report the accident to the police. The journey seemed to take hours, the miles crawling by. I kept drifting away, fatigue and semi-shock making me jump at imaginary things looming up in the road ahead. Robert was really sick. His insurance has just expired, and yesterday he paid out £160 for a new clutch.

We drove on in depressed silence and got back to Saxton after midnight. Carol seemed resigned about it all and was just thankful we were alive.

Monday, November 9, 1981

"Ruddy football"

It was pretty faceless at school on the whole and I spent the second period tittle-tattling with Claire.

After school I rang Robert about the Cross End match tomorrow and he rang back with bus times etc. I'll have to miss the last two periods, including a History test.

First Mum, then Dad, moaned on at me about “priorities,” about “floating off watching ruddy football.” Says Dad: “You’ll have no ‘A’-levels, nothing, and you can go join ’rest of ‘em on t' dole.” Mum ranted on about me wasting my potential; Dad said he never sees me doing any studying. And that’s the part that rankles the most, because it’s all so true and that's why it hurts. I never do do any work and I can feel my opportunities sliding irrevocably away. . . . Everywhere I turn (I think) I’m assailed by problems. I’m wasting my one real chance. I’m a bloody idiot!

Sunday, November 8, 1981


Mum and Dad went to Knowlesbeck so Mum could practice driving and when they got back, we all watched the Remembrance Day Parade. The usual sadness, and as the old ex-servicemen streamed slowly by Mum was reduced to sobs and had to leave the room. “It's just that they're all so old yet wear their medals so proudly.”

I set off for Cardigan Park and met up with Rob and Carol outside the club shop; they'd just rushed over from Brynmor on the train. Carol seemed subdued and morose. For once there was a queue to get in and we got to our usual spot in the Shed just as the players came out.

Hydebridge were terrible, easily the worst side I’ve seen this season; their No. 9 Pollard was especially crap. Athletic by contrast were really good and scored in the third minute, a Newlands cross perfectly stoop-headed in by Hughes. Hydebridge got into things a bit more in the second half and almost scored from a sloppy Muir back pass: Ackroyd did well to save. They began to dominate and Athletic looked complacent, slow and non-committal. We were lucky to win in the end.

I regret having my hair cut. I know this sounds ludicrous, but it feels like a cop out, and that keeping it long and scraggly was sort of my own trivial up yours to social convention and neatness. But conformity rules, OK?

Saturday, November 7, 1981


I half intended getting up early to look for a Saturday job but inevitably I got up at eleven thirty. I've felt bored with my long hair, so I went and had my hair lopped off. It’s quite short now. After that, lethargy took over. Nothing notable happened. Jeremy rang: London is definitely off.

At fiveish, there was a knock at the door. It was Peter and Tim. After hysterics at my hair, Peter asked me if I still wanted to help him with his Geography project and so two hours later he called round in the car and we picked Tim up. We drove all over, from semi-urban Egley to Easterby town centre, taking measurements for humidity and temperature at about seven different points, the temperature rising and the humidity falling as we did so.

Friday, November 6, 1981

Armchair anarchist

Claire out today; otherwise nondescript. Felt happier, and less depressed, frustrated than yesterday. I even did some work. I reestablished contact with Deborah. She’s OK.

Laura and I played chess and she beat me. I'm feeling defeated by my “armchair anarchist” opinions. I never do anything.

I told Jeremy that I can't afford to go to London next week.

Thursday, November 5, 1981


I had an appointment in the morning with the doctor about my right ear, which has been blocked since Saturday. The doctor sent me away with instructions to use ear drops; I went home and did some sketches for art before strolling in to school at a quarter-to-twelve. It was clear and sunny but bitterly cold.

I was greeted by anticipatory smiles; Slicer had absolutely roasted Jeremy for missing her lesson and I listened with a sickening feeling as I was told how she had threatened to take things further. I put on a brave face, and pretended I'd say something about her hapless teaching. I'd stand up to her!

When I finally saw her she was angry but she ended on a cold and resigned note, and even looked near to tears. She said the fault was as much hers as ours, that the lessons were turgid, and that she felt she wasn’t coping, etc. . . . “I think the first half-term was a disaster and we’d better start again.” She still seemed angry but it turned into more of a discussion about the drawbacks of English literature.

When I got back to the common room Claire seemed utterly remote. I felt so helpless.

The day ended in typical boredom and after Art, me and Lee tried to analyse our lethargy. We seem to be the only ones thinking on these lines. Are we just searching for excuses for our laziness? Sometimes I get so overwhelmed and feel so deadened by school work that I even wonder if there’s something wrong with me, but really I’m just a slob. Half-resolutions to turn over a new leaf--I have to change somehow and need a big new decisive change to get my mind and my body out of this huge rut I'm in, something as trivial as lopping off my hair, anything . . . I don't know. But it has all got to change, and soon.

Princess Diana is expecting a kid already. He didn’t waste much time. Royal battery hens, baby machines, etc.

Wednesday, November 4, 1981

The way I am

I was late into school yet again. Hirst is still away so I was free most of the morning, which I spent in the common room arguing with Duncan about the police or something or other. For once I was glad I got across something forcefully and without whingeing. I recall hearing Claire back me up. I’m always ashamed of airing my views.

In the afternoon Jeremy and I went to my house for the second launch of the Shuttle. Claire and Evelyn came along too, and how happy I was, crunching through all the leaves, talking to her! The Shuttle was a GO for launch, but as the tension rose, there was a hold at T-31 seconds which dragged on and became permanent. No launch, the same despairing feeling as last April, a big-let down. We sat about for another half-an-hour or so before going back to school in time for last lesson, General Studies.

After school I felt reflective and heart-sick. I haven’t a clue what to do or anything about Claire; I sat in History this morning and just looked at her and hated how quickly time flies by, how soon the weeks rush past. Now I won’t see her again until next Monday. I always look to the sad side of things even when I’m happy. That seems to be the way I am.

Later, I went and watched Athletic beat Ryburn United 2-0 in the worst match I’ve seen this season. Athletic’s goals culminated half-an-hour of fierce attacking football, but after this the rest of the match was lifeless and dull, with Ryburn outplaying Athletic for long periods. Scarborough was brilliant though, crunching into defenders with frequent tackles. Dad picked me up on his way home from work.

Tuesday, November 3, 1981


English first lesson was cancelled because Hirst was away. History was boring (we copied down dictated notes), and the third lesson I spent idly in the common room with Deborah and Tommy. The claustrophobia started to get to me and I ended up feeling typically frustrated and bitter, so I went for a walk up around Gilthwaite and through the horrific council suburbs there, pretending I was going mad.

Giles’s lesson was private study, so I helped Deborah with her essay for Hirst and then talked to Claire, which was the most enjoyable feature of the whole day. Duncan continues with his jibes but I don’t care. I prefer her company above anyone’s.

After school, Lee and I played chess and then we walked down to Art which was a trial because I hadn’t done my preparation over the holiday; things were lightened only by the discovery of some contact prints of Mrs. Blakeborough naked on a bed. I walked home in blustery blackness, hating myself. I never work anymore!

I just don't know!

Monday, November 2, 1981


Back to the old routine. No remorse. I was glad to see Claire but had to endure lots of insinuations from Duncan throughout the day, all stemming from last Wednesday’s theatre trip. I felt like saying I wished it was all true.

I struggle with the same old boredom and lack of capabilities, no forcefulness in argument, etc. How can I hope to be a convincing and committed anarchist when I’m so wishy-washy?

Sunday, November 1, 1981


November came in in fine old style with high winds, steely grey skies and rain. I read about US authoritarianism in Latin America all morning, the pathological hatred and fear of communism that makes them support anti-communist opponents at all costs, even when those opponents are military dictators and fascists. It made me really angry and frustrated.

The weather began to clear just before one and got bright, winds still gale-force and I set off to  the Film Theatre feeling happy. I had to wait for the lunchtime session to finish before I could get my steward’s badge, torch and reaction sheets.

I was steward through three films: Tapdancin’, The Stuntman, and in place of La Ronde, Gregory’s Girl again. The theatre was empty compared to yesterday although it did fill up for The Stuntman,  but I watched the last film of the afternoon with about twenty others. I came home on the bus with Jeremy and Colin.
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